Michael Bolton is really confused.

His audiences are definitely more female than anything else -- that's not the problem. It's the two distinct age groups that he's a little worried about. There are little girls who let out those shrilling little screams. And there are the mothers, who, he says, "yell out things!"

The question is -- and this is really bothering him -- WHICH ONES ARE THROWING THE PANTIES WITH ADDRESSES IN THEM?

"I've been hit in the chest with them a couple times!" he says. "Panties as well as cards with notes that say things like, 'I have a Jacuzzi,' or 'For a great home-cooked meal, call ...' "

Ah, the problems of a sex symbol.

Bolton first started out as a recording artist, but it was his songwriting that caught people's attention.

"A publishing company liked my songs and suggested I write for other people," he says. "It was a strange idea for me, but I was a struggling artist, so I figured why not? It was the first steady paycheck I had seen in many years."

His songs were recorded by "some big artists," he says. Cher used a couple of his songs for her first Geffen album, including her Top 10 hit, "I Found Someone." Bolton decided, though, to hold onto a few of his favorites for himself. The result was his 1987 album, "The Hunger" -- a collection of R&B and soul cuts, including a remake of Otis Redding's "Dock of the Bay."

Redding's widow, Zelma, wrote to Bolton that it was her "all-time favorite version of my husband's classic." And when Bolton performed it at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, she wrote, "it brought tears to my eyes. It reminded me so much of my husband that I know if he heard it, he would feel the same."

Michael Bolton is performing with saxophonist Kenny G at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Saturday night at 7. Tickets are $17.50 and $22.50 and available at Ticketron. For information, call 1-800-543-3041.